Polystyrene is a great packaging material. Lightweight and easy to mold, it isolates well from the cold and protects from the heat. The material comes with disadvantages, too. In fact, polystyrene comprises the vast majority of marine litter worldwide. What can be done?
Expanded polystyrene, also known as EPS, is a material made from synthetic chemicals and fossil fuels. Despite its origins, the material is marketed as a somewhat sustainable option. Commonly used for insulation and packaging, the light transportation weight of EPS reduces the material’s environmental impact.
If this is true, why did New York City recently ban EPS? The de Blasio administration banned single-use EPS starting July 1, 2015. Since then the local cafes, school cafeterias and fast food establishments have had to come up with an alternative for the traditional disposable cups, plates and takeaway containers.
The reasons behind the ban are evident: EPS is non-decomposable and non-recyclable. Because of this, the lightweight material winds up floating in the sea in large quantities. Over time, the polystyrene breaks down into smaller pieces, and the fragmented litter gets eaten by unsuspecting fish and wildlife.
Luckily, EPS can easily be replaced by fibre-based materials. Walki offers a comparably lightweight, moldable alternative that is recyclable and renewable. Our cardboard can easily be shaped into a tray (Walki®Pack Tray) or cup (Walki®Cup) that is liquid proof, grease and heat-resistant.
Fish boxes are one example of laminated, corrugated fiberboard. Fishermen have long used EPS boxes to keep their catch fresh on vessels and at marketplaces.
They’ve also witnessed how pieces of polystyrene end up in the sea with unfortunate consequences.
Marine pollution does not have to be our future. Our solution is a double-sided laminated material (mainly Walki®Line Aqua and Walki®Line Ultra) that keeps fish, ice and water fresh and cool. When not in use, the boxes can be folded to save valuable space on fishing vessels. They can also be custom-printed with the fisherman’s personal slogan. How about this one: Polystyrene to the sea? No way!